Newly discovered petroglyphs at Montserrat.

Ancient rock carvings of a type seen in northern South America and in parts of the Caribbean have been discovered for the first time on the island of Montserrat. In January, local hikers came across the petroglyphs, probably carved by natives more than a thousand years ago. The Montserrat National Trust didn’t announce the carvings until this week so experts could verify their authenticity. Archaeologists think the carvings can provide insight into the lives of the native people of the island nation of the Lesser Antilles before the arrival of European colonialists.

 “We have Amerindian artifacts on the island, but had not seen petroglyphs,” Sarita Francis, director of the Montserrat National Trust, told the Guardian. “These are the first that we know of that have been found here.”

The carvings are estimated to date to between 1,000 and 1,500 years ago, Francis said, though the Guardian article does not say how she came to that tentative conclusion. Radiocarbon dating will give a more precise time frame for creation of the rock carvings.

The carvings depict geometric designs and some type of creature. The hikers, Shirley Osborne and Barzey, saw them carved into a large, mossy rock and reported the artwork to authorities.

One carving appears to depict a type of creature.

One carving appears to depict a type of creature. Credit: Ravo R